Man Utd hope to emulate old rivals Liverpool in Europe
Rooney still has 'lofty ambitions' but should Moyes be invoking the spirit of Liverpool?
MANCHESTER UNITED may be languishing in sixth place in the Premier League, 11 points away from a top four place, but Wayne Rooney and his team-mates still harbour hopes of winning the Champions League this season.
Ahead of their last 16 clash with Olympiakos in Greece tonight Rooney described this season's competition as "an opportunity to win another trophy and hopefully we can do that".
He was not alone, both Darren Fletcher and Nemanja Vidic expressed similar sentiments, echoing manager David Moyes's assertion last week that United could "do a Liverpool" and emerge as unexpected winners of the European Cup.
Not all United fans will be pleased that their new manager is taking inspiration from the exploits of their great rivals. His comments about the Merseyside club inspiring "hope" at Old Trafford certainly appear to contrast with the attitude of his predecessor Alex Ferguson, who made it his priority to knock Liverpool "off their perch" when he arrived at Old Trafford in 1986.
But, as the Daily Mirror notes, "United's domestic travails have meant their most realistic hope of qualifying for next season's Champions League will be to lift this season’s European crown".
They will need a generous slice of luck if they are to win the trophy. "To tout themselves as able to win a tournament that includes the holders, Bayern Munich, who are more formidable this year, and the gilded Barcelona team of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Neymar, sounds fantastical," notes The Guardian, but it adds that the tournament is a knock-out competition and United could yet emulate underdogs Liverpool in 2005 and Chelsea in 2012.
"The determination and conviction that shone through last night as he outlined his lofty ambitions for the future," notes the paper. But it adds that United are under no illusions about the size of their task.
"United have reserved their best performances under Moyes for the Champions League. They have also been handed arguably the kindest draw in the round of 16," notes the Times. "Yet it was impossible not to detect the awe in Rooney’s voice as he appraised the credentials of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, whose 2-0 victories over Manchester City and Arsenal respectively last week served both as a source of inspiration and an instruction manual in the United player's eyes."